Genetic Testing May Improve Chemotherapy for Aggressive Form of Breast Cancer

A study conducted found that an aggressive form of breast cancer, especially when the patient has BRCA mutations, responds well to non-standard chemotherapy. New research suggests that chemotherapy can be improved and personalized with genetic testing for breast cancer. Patients who have triple-negative breast cancer do not respond to the target drug Herceptin or hormone therapies. Therefore they are treated with a chemotherapy agent known as docetaxel.

New trial findings indicate that patients with defective versions of BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 are likely to be treated with a different chemo drug known as carboplatin. The results of the finding may change the international guidelines by introducing the genetic testing for triple-negative breast cancer in women.

  • The trial suggests that most women with triple negative breast cancer can now be considered for testing for BRCA gene faults to enable those who test positive to use carboplatin.
  • Using the test will greatly help in guiding treatment for women with triple-negative breast cancer.
  • During the trial, carboplatin shrank tumors in 68% of the BRCA mutation carrier cases, while docetaxel shrank to only 33%.
  • Women with BRCA mutations who used carboplatin had fewer side effects and the tumor progression delayed for months longer. Carboplatin is thought to be effective because it damages tumor DNA in a specific way.

Scientists believe that the ability of cancer cells in repairing genetic damage from carboplatin may be impaired by the BRCA mutations. The results show that carboplatin is not only an effective treatment option but also has few side effects that lessen the emotional distress and physical discomfort in patients. The exciting study gives hope for providing breast cancer patients with precise care.

 

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